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The Duty of a Free Press

28 May 2018  

Is the mainstream media doing its job?

The watchdog of a free and open society is a strong and independent press. The media has an obligation to research and report facts. In the context of editorials, they have a right to express personal or editorial board opinions, but when reporting facts, there is no room for expressing personal bias or viewpoints. When the vast majority of the press is in the hip pocket of a political party or politician, they tend not to ask the hard questions. In such an environment, the media throws up softball inquiries that can be easily hit out of the ballpark by their political favorites. In such circumstances, the press isn't doing its job. Such a situation is a recipe for an abuse of power and corruption.

The opposite is also true. If the majority of the media has a hatred for a political party or politician, the media will exaggerate every gaffe, emphasize every mistake and fail to report or minimize every success. That the majority of the press hasn't been doing its job for the last few decades is evident. Those of us around during the Reagan presidency will recall how the press tried to portray him as an amiable dunce. Today they are maligning President Trump even more than they ever did Reagan. It is more apparent now, because there are so many different venues for obtaining news today on the internet and cable that can counter the main stream media. What is even worse, is that they fail or only briefly report on President Trump's successes. In the old newspaper days, this used to be called, “spiking” a story.

The preamble to the Code of Ethics for the Society for Professional Journalists states: “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility...”

The majority of those throughout the political spectrum would agree with those words. Can anyone honestly say that the main stream media has been doing its job since President Obama took office in 2009? Did they ask probing questions about the Fast and Furious scandal, the Benghazi fiasco, keeping your own insurance and doctor with Obama Care? Did they ever ask about the hypocrisy between Candidate Obama's statement about the “immorality” of leaving a huge national debt to our children, while he was doubling it?

Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the press has reported, hyped and overreacted to every alleged, or fabricated minor scandal or accusation against Donald Trump since before he came into the public's eye. Most of this so-called reporting cites “unnamed sources” or “high government officials,” and if the story later proves to be false there are seldom retractions. It seems like the vast majority of main stream media reporters are cut from the Dan Rather mode and refuse to admit wrong doing even in the face of irrefutable evidence.

But that's only half the story. President Trump has some major accomplishments, yet a review of reporting on the President showed that almost 92 percent of stories on President Trump are negative. The main stream media might, if they mention it at all, give a 15 or 20 second blurb about the robust economy, the record low unemployment rate, or companies bringing manufacturing back to our country, but then they'll spend five minutes on a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Trump a decade before he ran for public office. When an editor, news producer, network or station rejects positive news items and emphasizes negative ones they are not only wrongly showing their prejudice, they are neglecting their duty as watch dogs of our Republic.